Unite to block the Right’s campaign to divide and conquer
Australia must not allow our politicians and “thought” leaders on the right to push us down the destructive path being pursued by the Republicans.
The American right is waging war on modernity. The radicalised right alliance is sacrificing empirical evidence and truth for theocracy, tribal games and lies. It is determined to reverse the achievements of the Civil Rights era: white Christian man will return to his rightful place as delineator of truth. The contingent is destroying America’s standing to achieve it.
Ultimately the factions that make up the American right see non-white people, non-Christians, women and the LGBTQI+ community as not fully human nor deserving of equality. People who struggle financially, physically, mentally: none of them merit human dignity. The radical Christian right demands these lesser beings abase themselves before the laws of God (as defined by these extremists), and before the white men responsible for enforcing those mandates.
For the plutocrats who fund the right’s activities, the scandals and the progressives’ fight back are all part of a delightful distraction to conceal the funnelling upwards of the nation’s wealth. This group will be well-cushioned from the exigencies of the climate crisis they’re driving us into.
It is easy for progressive factions to see each of their struggles to retain rights as distinct. This is a gift to the right. Women’s right to control their own bodies is intricately interwoven with the LGBTQI+ communities’ battles to control their own bodies too. The threat to the survival of non-white people is analogous to the threat levelled at LGBTQI+ people. Those whose identities place them at the intersection of various categories know best how much more threat they face than, say, middle class white women. LGBTQI+ black and brown people are far more likely to be hurt, raped or murdered even by those appointed to care for them.
The faction nicknamed the Christian Taliban has no qualms about robbing the rest of the population of freedom, even while describing their actions as protecting liberty. The Alliance Defending Freedom, an extreme Christian organisation, bankrolls court cases to test the Supreme Court’s willingness to allow the creation of a segregated economy excluding LGBTQI+ people. Ultimately their goal is to recriminalise sexual acts between consenting LGBTQI+ adults.
The religious right in America is celebrating the overturning of Roe v Wade by working out how it can make abortion illegal nationwide. In the Dobbs case that brought down that partial right to control one’s fertility, Clarence Thomas made it clear that contraception access, marriage equality and even the legality of gay sex should be undermined by similar Supreme Court law-making.
The damage this is doing to women and more post-Dobbs is already apparent. Care for miscarriages has become fraught in red (Republican) states as doctors become too scared to heal, and pharmacists refuse to issue prescribed medication. Some pharmacies are keeping pregnancy tests behind the counter to monitor who requests one. Users have been warned to delete apps that monitor menstruation for fear they will be used for surveillance. Other social crises follow. Thirty six percent of US counties are already maternity care deserts and America has much higher maternal and infant mortality rates compared to similar nations. Indigenous and non-white people predominate in these deaths: one Louisiana senator said that the state’s appalling statistics cease to be such an outlier if one discounts black deaths, in an appalling confession of apathy.
Republicans are working on ways they can prevent all abortion healthcare (which cripples obstetric care). Strategies are being devised to monitor women’s travel between states to ensure it is not for reproductive healthcare purposes. They are also contriving ways to prevent the postal service being used to send the abortion pills that are making this era’s abortion ban somewhat less deadly than the past’s. People in Tennessee are being threatened with three years jail for “lying” about rape to gain access to abortion. Some politicians and activists are working out how the death penalty might be meted out to doctors or patients.
Donald Trump has begun his second run for President with an announcement that he plans to ban all gender medical (hormone) care for minors. Currently, many red states are introducing a flood of laws to prevent the care of youth wishing to delay puberty and transition (despite the clear evidence that it prevents despair and suicide) with harsh punitive measures for parents and healthcare providers involved. One state is looking to charge parents with felony trafficking crimes for taking their child interstate for care. The states are aiming to push the ban on healthcare up to the age of 25 because that is when young people move off their parents’ health insurance and are likely to face substantial obstacles to treatment. Others are looking to ban all gender-based healthcare for adults too. The plan is the total erasure of trans people, and the activists do not care how many people die to achieve this.
A lack of interest in the number of pregnant and LGBTQI+ people who die, plus efforts to impose surveillance and travel bans is only one of the overlapping aspects of the war. Proposals to check schoolgirls’ genitals to see if they are cisgender in order to play in female sporting teams is victimising them as much as the trans youth excluded from these activities. The plan in Florida to monitor female athletes’ menstrual history in detail is as much a way to monitor their possible access to abortion as it is to exclude trans girls. While too many on the right aim to have all LGBTQI+, and supporters, falsely known as groomers and pedophiles, many Republicans want no minimum age for heterosexual marriage.
The attacks on schools and teachers are emblematic of the unified nature of this war on “minority” populations. Florida pushed the College Board to have the AP African-American studies course stripped of its references to current struggles and to Queer and feminist black activists. The attacks on school (and adult) libraries and classrooms demands that any book that makes white students uncomfortable must be removed (including children’s’ books telling MLK’s life story) since only the white mythology of America’s history is acceptable. Any reference to gender or sexuality is also banned, so books about suffragettes are as likely to make the excluded list as books accepting LGBTQI+ existence. Unsurprisingly, The Handmaid’s Tale is on the list.
At the moment Manatee County, Florida, is at the forefront of implementing Governor Ron DeSantis’s war on “woke.” That means teachers’ personal classroom libraries of lovingly collected treasures are banned to students until a “media consultant” has checked every book for appropriateness. Whether Pulitzer Prize winning books for senior secondary students or bland references to two fathers in a picture book for small children, the dehumanised will not be visible to these students. Teachers are threatened with third degree felony charges (equivalent to manslaughter) if any book seen by students is judged to be “pornographic” but for the radicalised gangs in charge of banning the books, the definition of pornographic can be the mention of gender and sexual identities.
The full obscenity of these book bans is seen when contrasted with the enabling of mass shootings with assault weapons that these same politicians are abetting, even in children’s hands.
The non-white in America are seen as automatically guilty, denied the white man’s plaint that he is owed the presumption of innocence. The regular police lynchings of black men establish that they are presumed not only guilty of a particular crime at that moment but guilty of being a constant threat that can only be halted by death. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, instead of sending adequate aid for those abandoned, New Orleans police and the National Guard licensed an assassination program. People stranded with nothing in the disaster zone were to be shot or thrashed for taking an insulated cooler from a backyard in order to survive. Instead of being seen as worthy of saving, they were misleadingly portrayed as “looters.” There is no ability to reveal and repair this kind of constant slander and oppression in a world where the right demands that the crisis cannot be discussed in the mainstream for fear of making white people uncomfortable.
This automatic assumption that (white) man must be innocent and “minorities” are to be feared, monitored and controlled applies to women. To find an assailant guilty of first degree rape is a monumental project that very few survivors manage to achieve. It is, however, the only way in a number of states to prevent having the rapist able to claim custody of the child the woman was unable to abort. Whether it is an attempt to avoid paying as much parental support or a further effort to torture the survivor, these men are not the figures a state should want rearing children. The men governing these states (and their complicit radical right women accomplices) see the survivors as temptresses or liars.
The religious right does not see these attacks on the freedom of their country people as anything but essential. Partly they believe themselves under existential attack because the recognised existence of others as equal humans is an abomination and genocidal threat. They believe in a literal war of “good” against “evil.” This Spiritual Warfare is waged against the demonic forces of Satan.
Supreme Court judges (the third branch of government) recently described prejudice against LGBTQI+ people as honourable compared to dishonourable racism (although they build racist barriers at every step while disguising the intent). These national lawmakers described same sex marriage as “bad,” “false” and something fittingly loathed, as offensive to one’s beliefs.
The more secular right is exploring the post-liberal world order, dismayed and disgusted with the messiness of the post-Cold War world. The idea that the preferences of the nation bend to inclusion and acceptance is a toxicity rather than a suggestion that the formerly conservative need to reevaluate their beliefs and bigotries. LGBTQI+ equality is supported by up to 80% of Americans. Some access to abortion is supported by around 60–80% of Americans, and only 13% support a total ban. Just short of 70% of Americans supported the Black Lives Matter protests. The post-liberal thought leaders, including the national conservatism movement, believe this is evidence of the utterly dissolution of the nation into degenerate chaos as a result of liberal tolerance for others’ freedom of choice. If it takes authoritarian imposition of morality and discipline to retrieve America’s “greatness,” that is what must be imposed.
They are supported by a European hard right that is Western chauvinist, deploying Christianity as a trope for white superiority and the base for the imposition of “traditional” lives and “family values.” The most obviously fascistic contender for the next Republican presidential race is Ron DeSantis who is reported to draw on Hungary’s Viktor Orbán’s actions for inspiration. It is not just Eastern Europe where this rages. Transphobia has hollowed out feminism in Britain creating untold harm. Combined with the deep misogyny and bigotry fostered by powerful influencers such as Andrew Tate, the threat is growing. A young British trans girls was just murdered by two teens as she sat in a park.
Australia faces all these same influences seeping in through our politicians, media and the internet. It builds on the fact we share the founding racism that mars American democracy (and the British colonial project). We are bigoted and misogynistic in great swathes of the country. As the right thrashes around, hollowed out by neoliberal extreme ideology, searching for a mandate, it will echo the American decline into division and hatred. That is, unless we make these forces irrelevant. We must make sure they know: we will not be America here.
We will only achieve this if we stand together, women and LGBTQI+ and BIPOC and all the intersectional identities disallowed and stripped of equal dignity.
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I am aware that I have granted cis women the label “woman” here and used the racist “Christian Taliban” label. I did both consciously because I want women tempted by bigotry (and our supporters) to read this not alienated by being called cis women. I wanted them caught by the similarities for women under the Taliban and the trajectory of the American religious right, some of whom are arguing they supported the wrong side in Afghanistan (post Mujahideen).
Uhm Lucy ….. I get the very distinct feeling that the USA (United States of Apartheid) is eating itself into becoming a neo-Fascist state in much the same manner as post-Weimar Germany 1933-1945.
The quest for non-Christian censorship of reading materials, especially books, reminds one of ”1984”.
The xenophobia of American pollies is the backbone for the NE military industrial complex to create world markets for their military products. The complicity of the American media with its world-wide reach is complicit in these deceptions, like the ”WMDs = Words of Mass Deception” from American security forces, the unreliable CIA et al.
All that before you consider the misogynistic demand that women have no control over their own bodies and health.
I am waiting for a competent objective journalist to describe the family practices of the currently described far right wing Jewish sects and cults that support the Netanyahu Zionist government. A close investigation may discover that there are few differences between the Taliban and the Zionist cults.
I’ve been baffled for ages at the Robodebt lunacies. How could some that malignant, that illogical, ever even reach the consciousness of an adult?
But think about Captain Catholic first. then Morrison’s daft proddie fundamentalist crooks and it is just plausible that this theory helps explain how such folk could be so dislocated from reality and psychotic about people who are not within a very tiny charmed circle.
Robodebt is SO lunatic as to be only explicable by reaction and it is a good description of where it lives.
Cocky, I was out walking the dog this morning, a longer walk than the usual out to the car parked in the street and then driven to the dog park, this time an actual real walk of several kilometres.
Along the way, I saw this quote printed on a transparent backing and pasted on the end panel of a bus stop shelter… it’s worth repeating here in the context of how the American experiment is faring.
“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power…. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.”
Spoken by Franklin D. Roosevelt: April 29, 1938
Given the dominance of the political bodies at state and federal levels by corporate lobbyists, the enormous influence of political donations, the fact that in many many cases legislation is written by businesses and presented to political institutions to merely rubber-stamp, one may safely say that Roosevelt’s warning more than eighty years ago has come to pass. As you’d be aware, many stateside as well as other observers are now calling the USA a failed state in the sense of its claim to be a democracy. Kleptocracy more accurately, or perhaps Corporatocracy.
A man with whom I used to correspond in the early 2000’s was an Australian mathematician who lived stateside for business purposes but around that time, having been resident there for well over a decade, he decamped. He said he could no longer tolerate living in a crypto-fascist society. It’s well past time for the rose-coloured glasses to be removed, in that sense of the USA being the land of the free, maybe should be replaced by bullet & mace-proof transparent shields.
Lucy. I love the straight thinking that you bring into the light. While we are being directed to thinking of voices in our constitution, we are told the ignore the clamour of noise that comes from Washington.
Is this a deliberate distraction?
Our subservient relationship with a culture which is well past its time.
A thug losing its grip is no longer a pretty sight. If we could only ignore, or sanction, the tidal wave of propaganda which sweeps in from USA, then we could address the subjects which need discussion at this stage of the planets life.
The loonies need to be called out.(Do i plead the first amendment here?)
Slightly OT, but more evidence, as if more were needed, on how out of touch America is with realpolitik, with existential realities, with the sorts of issues that need to be addressed that will deliver real benefits for the best cost to the greatest number of people.
This example, listed in today’s SMH, has the NASA deputy calling on Australia to increase its spending on high-tech space developments in a bid to counter China’s growing dominance in outer space.
That’s right! Australia ought to step up to compete against, nay, outcompete against China, in developing and utilising technology for off the planet activity.
As to actual capacity in this exciting challenge, one source cited the following: Based on current enrollment patterns, we project that by 2025 Chinese universities will produce more than 77,000 STEM PhD graduates per year compared to approximately 40,000 in the United States.
I couldn’t find a comparable figure for this country, but this is indicative: Evidence indicates that the annual percentage of graduates in higher education with a STEM background in Singapore and China is about 34.75 per cent and 46.9 per cent respectively. According to the most recent figures from the Department of Education and Training, only 18 per cent of Australian graduates in 2014 were in the fields of STEM.
Extrapolating, very crudely, this transpires to Australian STEM graduates being a fraction of China’s. And as to the capital available to take on this figurative wrestling match between Godzilla and the little guy who peeped out from under a rock, China’s most recently published GDP: $17.73 trillion USD (2021), cf Australia’s: $1.553 USD (2021).
She’s (The NASA 2IC) got to be kidding, right? Nah. She’s serious. But she does, in a roundabout way, acknowledge the inherent shortcomings of the western democratic model vs. the Chinese system. That is, to say, that the Chinese decide to do something, and they do it. The Americans decide to do something, and they fart about and argue for years before getting on with in in a half-arsed sort of fashion.
Wow! What a great argument for a one-party system. Looks like Marx was right, after all.
“ Australia faces all these same influences seeping in through our politicians, media and the internet. ”
Religion is a major factor in prejudice!
Canguro … It was ever thus that our STEM graduates found employment overseas, even when I was a schoolgirl.. It has only got worse with manufacturing having all but completely exited the country. No R&D needed. Just about all that is left is medical research and teaching. Worthy and necessary as they both are, that’s not a broad enough field or enough jobs to entice current students to pursue STEM education.
Australia has got to the stage where it hopes to get by on greed. The greatest profit for the fewest number, and most of those, the big corporations, take, take, take, contributing nothing but a few jobs and otherwise, profits, untaxed leave the country. We import workers from overseas – trades people (of doubtful proficiency in my experience), and professionals that other countries have paid to train. It’s shameful before it’s anything else.
You can quite reasonably say that we are getting what we deserve. Because the rich still only have one vote. But they’ve managed to convince too many of the lowly and outright poor to vote for the the wealthy, against the interests of the downtrodden.
‘That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power…’ FDR
No FDR, those are all real causes for concern but that is not a description of fascism, which is the principal of strength in numbers that are united as one, as symbolised by the fasces – a bundle of rods which are easily broken individually but very difficult to break when bound together. That is why it is called fascism. Sometimes the symbolism used is a bundle of arrows and sometimes an ax is incorporated. That’s why some fascist organisations called themselves phalangists or phalanques which is a word reference to arrows.
If you look carefully at the Great Seal of the United States you may notice that the bald eagle is clutching a bundle of arrows in its talon. A deliberate reference to fascism which at that time when the seal was designed had not yet fallen into disrepute by its appropriation by Mussolini in his emulation of Ancient Rome (The fasces was the most sacred symbol of the Roman Republic). And US power itself is based upon the indivisible union of states. The US even fought a brutal civil war against separatists to preserve the union of those states.
Given that the US government consciously appropriated so much of the Roman Republican model you could be forgiven for expecting FDR to know that he was actually the proud President of a fascist nation.
Margcal: “Because the rich still only have one vote.” Wrong and I’m sure you can figure out how that is. Just analyse what Clive Palmer did in the previous federal election. Not to mention how the Coalition has been governing for so many years out of the last three decades.
It does seem that we might have broken that connection but I am not sure. Many are the ways in which the rich manage to get their fingers in every pie!
The radical right have found in recent times ( maybe earlier ) a convenient pillar and protective devices to hide behind … the main one being a ‘Christian ‘stance, or a righteous one, or both … all in the name of what is supposedly good and right – but cynically and unashamedly they use this cover to promote only their own search for power and then more power. Who they put down or try to relegate to obscurity, doesn’t concern them whatsoever. We all know this, but what to do about it.
As for what that ‘grandiose ‘ country, America is doing now – they have entered in fact into the gates of hell, in their attempts to wipe away womens rights and other rights such as which books anyone can read ( ?? ), not to mention their treatment of needy people of all colours and creeds. The dearth of care and concern is deplorable, If the U.S. succeeds even in a small way to implement these ghastly endeavours, the country hastens its downward slide. ‘Degenerate chaos ‘ can only happen if this radical right continues, and is not stopped … somehow. How ? I don’t know – but the American population must find a way to alter the course on its road to fascism. If it’s already not too late.
Some regimes have passive ageing electorates who can be influenced by direct control and manipulation of judiciary, media and education a la Central Europe.
However, in the ‘Anglosphere’ cannot be too obvious on 1930’s German influnce, it’s leveraging the above through think tank policies and talking points to mask eg both sociocultural attacks and cooperation on education and legislation, with hollowed out media doing PR; LGBT etc. issues are simply Trojan Horses IMO.
Further, now Appelbaum, Zizek, Corn and Kendzior speak of authoritarian networks inc. Netanyahu, Orban, GOP/Fox News etc; Kendzior used example of Trump in her book ‘In Plain Sight’ of the modus operandi.
At Superbowl image of Musk and Murdoch, all that was missing Charles Koch & Tucker Carlson or Steve Bannon?
The US Supreme Court decided that there was no constitutional guarantee to abortion and that meant that it was a matter for the states to determine their individual laws : fifty states, like herding cats and the result is a mess.
The situation in Australia is no different, there is no constitutional authority granted to the Commonwealth to legislate on abortion so the states (and territories) do their own thing : with six states and two mainland territories we have managed to finally remove abortion as a crime but we still have a hotpotch of regulation across the land :
In the ACT, abortion is legal up to 16 weeks’ gestation and must be performed by a doctor or a nurse. After 16 weeks, the patient will need to travel interstate.
In New South Wales, abortions can be performed at up to 22 weeks. After that, two doctors must approve the procedure.
In the Northern Territory, one doctor can approve and perform an abortion at up to 24 weeks. After 24 weeks, two doctors need to approve an abortion.
In Queensland, abortions can be performed at up to 22 weeks. After 22 weeks, two doctors must approve the procedure.
In SA, abortions are allowed until 22 weeks and six days, after which two doctors have to agree that it is necessary.
In Tasmania, abortions can be performed at up to 16 weeks. After 16 weeks, two doctors must approve the procedure.
In Victoria, abortions can be performed at up to 24 weeks. After 24 weeks, two doctors must approve the procedure.
In WA, abortions can be performed at up to 20 weeks with the approval of two doctors. Termination after 20 weeks has to be approved by a panel of six doctors.
So good, so far !
The Commonwealth can, however control the approval of pharmaceuticals and politicians can still insert a malignant finger into our polity for their own ideological reasons. If you remember in 1996 independent senator Brian Harradine (who held the balance of power) struck a deal with the Howard government to support a partial privatisation of Telstra in return for giving then health minister Tony Abbott the power to veto the import, manufacture or use of abortion drug RU486 : It took more than a decade to overturn that power.
Notable that Harradine was and Abbott is a Catholic; both men socially conservative, regressive, anachronistic, oppositional, narrrow-minded. Also notable that Harradine was initially a Labor person until expelled for his affiliation with the DLP, a political group whose parliamentary membership was almost entirely composed of Catholics of Irish descent, and who were rabidly anti-communist. The DLP mostly directed that its voters preference the Liberal Party and Country Party ahead of the ALP. No wonder he was expelled! Curious beast that politics is, that such a quisling eventually rose to become known as a Father of the Senate, but given his machiavellian propensities, less curious that he should get into bed with Abbott for a bit of frottage over the RU486 banning.
Morrison’s 2019 election victory may well have been a ‘miracle’ but not the one he claimed. Without it we might never have known just how toxic “conservatives” really are nor the lengths to which they will go to get their way. Will Australians ever vote LNP again!? If not we may be secure from the utter evil that you catalogue as infecting the good folk of Muhrukuh. Politicians routinely say they have faith in the Australian people. We the people need to have faith in ourselves as we wait to see whether we have short memories and grasping aspirations or informed memories and the will to reassert the common good. Before the Civil War, American society was as bitterly divided as it is now – then over slavery, now over inclusiveness. No one wishes war on them, but we know that when evil insisted on having its way decent people met the challenge, because that’s what decent people do, whether over there back then, or over here, now. We’ll be OK but only because we choose inclusiveness rather than merely watch it happen – starting with the coming referendum.
I’ve been for the last week or so, distracted from the daily AIMN posts, by some very demanding, time sensitive physical tasks (a dirty job, but someone had to do it). I have unsuccessfully tried to keep apace, so at least I can keep one ‘thinking’ mandate oiled.
Yesterday I posted (in a hurry) the comment below to Tim Jones’ “Why is Conservatism?” (Feb 11, 2023). Today is far too hot for physical tasks so, I’m giving the catch-up a good go, and thought it might be relevant also to Lucy’s article – with a few corrections and a minor mod …..
“For goodness sake” ….. on old saying of ordinary well intentioned folk. Now supplanted by the ubiquitous OMG (Oh my God), an expression brought on by the dopamine chasing startled dim-wits of the USA and their enfranchised crackpot evangelists, post WWII. Personally, I couldn’t give a rats about their “God(s)”, to me it’s what’s in their hearts minds and souls that counts. When I was young, some 50-60 years ago, the ‘phenomenon’ of religion was of great interest to me, as I sought to unwind the relationships, meanings and philosophies of individuals vs the gangs and clubs, the sects of religion, cultural mores and idiosyncrasies, and politics.
It seems at the base, to be the fundamental relationship between fear and power. With the latter, aided by brutality (or militarism) being used to form the dominions, and the former being the fuel. All in a reciprocal dance to the death. Just like the behaviour of chimpanzees – those outside the ‘mob’ will be dealt with harshly or ‘eliminated’.
Of course, one could attempt to bring science and epistemological rigours into it, but, what’s the point? These processes require selflessness and hard work, the outcome of which provide all the ‘advancements’ that have been achieved and now used (taken for granted), mostly wantonly and willy-nilly. And sadly, more often than not, only as blunt and deadly weapons in the vain hope of reconciling the base ‘dance’ of the chimpanzees.
It appears to be the leverage of these two aspects of existence that the powerful, the ‘elite’, the ‘privileged’, the masters of dominion wield to maintain their position (and wealth), and that leverage is called ‘conservatism’. The main tool used by them; religion! The phenomenon that requires no evidence whatsoever, has only an emotional base, and is easily applied by the proto-puritanical, ’keep-up-with-the Joneses’ peddling, money-grubbing, God-bothering, con artists.
It seems, as a response to the ‘utopian’ onset of globalisation, we are now witnessing a backlash, in plague proportions in the USA, from those of ‘conservatism’ and the concomitant rise of barbarism and brutality …… fear, divide and conquer, where truth and science don’t matter. Surprise, surprise!
Keeping them out of Oz, and being very careful of their m.o. in inter-govt and industrial exchanges is a must, as we deal with our own problems, and get about our own much needed restructuring.